Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any bigger, Dr. Strangelove meets Weekend at Bernie's:
From the transcript:
The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.An honest mistake? That media "roll up" was last week. Here's Brig. Gen. Bergner trumpeting some breaking news to CNN viewers on June 13, 2007:
The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated "in the past few weeks" and were "recent results."
"In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul," he told reporters. "Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area." All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman's demise.
Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled "Tearing Down al Qaeda."
When The Examiner pointed out that Uthman's death had been announced twice, a command spokesman said in an e-mail, "You are correct that we did previously announce that we killed him. This was a roll up to show an overall effort against [al Qaeda in Iraq]. We can probably do a better job on saying 'previously announced' when we do long-term roll ups to show an overall effort."
From the transcript:
BLITZER: Finally, general, I understand there was a major hit against an Al Qaeda figure up in the north, in Mosul, earlier today.Short background on Bergner: He became head spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq in early June. His official title? Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Effects. He was Michael Gordon's only source for this New York Times piece on alleged Iranian ties to the Karbala raid in which five American troops were killed. His previous position: Special Assistant to President Bush.
I wonder if you could share some of the specific details with us.
BERGNER: Wolf, the coalition forces learned of a Kamal Jalil Bakr 'Uthman, who was referred to in some circles as the military emir of Mosul. He's the man who had -- who was involved in bringing some 100 foreign fighters in Iraq and involved in facilitating and conducting suicide attacks, both against the Iraqi people and the coalition.
Our forces went to detain him in Mosul. And as he resisted -- in fact, was going for a suicide vest, as our forces tried to capture him. And in the process they engaged him. And so an important action in Mosul, specifically, to reduce the Al Qaeda threat there, keep the pressure on these cells that are terrorizing the Iraqi people and conducting operations against the coalition.
So the picture I'm painting for you is there's a great deal of pressure on these extremist cells around -- all across Iraq.
BLITZER: And when you say they engaged him, you mean they killed him?
BERGNER: They did kill him in the attempt to capture him when he went for his suicide vest.